early 12c., from Old French chancelier (12c.), from Late Latin cancellarius "keeper of the barrier, secretary, usher of a law court," so called because he worked behind a lattice (Latin cancellus) at a basilica or law court (see chancel).
In the Roman Empire, a sort of court usher who stood at the latticed railing enclosing the judgment seat to keep the crowd out and admit those entitled to enter. The post gradually gained importance in the Western kingdoms as an intermediary between the petitioners and the judges as a notary or scribe. In England eventually he prepared all important crown documents and became keeper of the great seal and highest judicial officer of the crown. A variant form, canceler, existed in Old English, from Old North French, but was replaced by this central French form.
c. 1300, "a chessboard, checkerboard," from Anglo-French escheker "a chessboard," from Old French eschequier, from Medieval Latin scaccarium "chess board" (see check (n.1); also see checker (n.2)). The governmental sense of "department of the royal household concerned with the receipt, custody, and disbursement of revenue and with judicial determination of certain causes affecting crown revenues" began under the Norman kings of England and refers to a cloth divided in squares that covered a table on which accounts of revenue were reckoned by using counters, and which reminded people of a chess board. Respelled with an -x- based on the mistaken belief that it originally was a Latin ex- word.
c. 1300, "chancellorship;" late 14c., "court of the Lord Chancellor of England," contracted from chancellery (c. 1300), from Old French chancelerie (12c.), from Medieval Latin cancellaria (see chancellor). As in "Bleak House."
a condensed, thickened Roman typeface, 1845, evidently named for the Clarendon press at Oxford University, which was set up 1713 in the Clarendon Building, named for university Chancellor Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon.
mid-13c., counseiler, "one who gives counsel or advice, a confidante," from Old French conseillier "counselor, adviser" (Modern French conseiller), from Latin consilator, agent noun from consiliare, from consilium (see counsel (v.)).
Also sometimes counsellor, but the double -l- is unetymological and perhaps is modeled on chancellor. Meaning "one who gives professional legal advice, a counseling lawyer," is from 1530s. Psychological sense (as in marriage counselor, is from 1940).
c. 1300, remembraunce, "a memory, recollection," from Old French remembrance (11c.), from remembrer (see remember). From late 14c. as "consideration, reflection; present consciousness of a past event; store of personal experiences available to recollection, capacity to recall the past." Also late 14c. as "memento, keepsake, souvenir," and "a commemoration, remembering, ritual of commemoration." Meaning "faculty of memory, capability of remembering" is from early 15c.
British Remembrance Day, the Sunday nearest Nov. 11 (originally in memory of the dead of World War I) is attested from 1921. A remembrancer (early 15c.) was a royal official of the Exchequer tasked with recording and collecting debts due to the Crown; hence also, figuratively "Death" (late 15c.).
To us old lads some thoughts come home
Who roamed a world young lads no more shall roam.
[Melville, from "To Ned"]
1540s, "natural head of hair" (a sense now obsolete), from French perruque (late 15c.), which is from Italian perrucca "head of hair, wig," a word of uncertain origin; supposed by some to be connected to Latin pilus "hair," "but the phonetic difficulties are considerable" [OED]. Meaning "periwig, artificial head of hair" (especially one having large and ample masses) is attested from 1560s. Compare periwig.
About the middle of the sixteenth century wearing the peruke became a fashion. Immense perukes with curls falling upon the shoulders were worn from about 1660 to 1725, and were then succeeded by smaller and more convenient forms, which had also existed contemporaneously with the former. As late as 1825 some old-fashioned people still wore perukes, and a reminiscence of them remains in Great Britain in the wigs of the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the House of Commons, judges, barristers, etc. [Century Dictionary]
c. 1300, in chess, "a call noting one's move has placed his opponent's king (or another major piece) in immediate peril," from Old French eschequier "a check at chess" (also "chess board, chess set"), from eschec "the game of chess; chessboard; check; checkmate," from Vulgar Latin *scaccus, from Arabic shah, from Persian shah "king," the principal piece in a chess game (see shah; also compare checkmate (n.)). Also c. 1300 in a generalized sense, "harmful incident or event, hostile environment."
As "an exposure of the king to a direct attack from an opposing piece" early 15c. When his king is in check, a player's choices are severely limited. From that notion come the many extended senses: From the notion of "a sudden stoppage, hindrance, restraint" (1510s) comes that of "act or means of checking or restraining," also "means of detecting or exposing or preventing error; a check against forgery or alteration.
"Hence: "a counter-register as a token of ownership used to check against, and prevent, loss or theft" (as in hat check, etc.), 1812. Hence also the financial use for "written order for money drawn on a bank, money draft" (1798, often spelled cheque), which was probably influenced by exchequer. Hence also "mark put against names or items on a list indicating they have been verified or otherwise examined" (by 1856).
From its use in chess the word has been widely transferred in French and English. In the sense-extension, the sb. and vb. have acted and reacted on each other, so that it is difficult to trace and exhibit the order in which special senses arose [OED]
Meaning "restaurant bill" is from 1869. Checking account is attested from 1897, American English. Blank check in the figurative sense is attested by 1849 (compare carte blanche). Checks and balances is from 1782, perhaps originally suggesting machinery.